By Ann Silverthorn
—EMC today unveiled its eDiscovery solution, which combines services with EMC software and hardware to collect and hold information relative to litigation. eDiscovery also applies information lifecycle management (ILM) strategies to organize data and streamline the discovery process, eliminating the need for costly third-party services.
"The biggest cost for companies involved in litigation occurs in the area of data collection," says Vivian Gopico-Tero, senior research analyst of compliance infrastructure at International Data Corp (IDC). "When companies are involved in multiple litigations, there is an opportunity to automate the collection process by tagging and organizing information relevant to preservation holds. eDiscovery is initially focused on e-mail, because that's the low-hanging fruit."
Gopico-Tero says that "eDiscovery is designed for companies that are involved in multiple litigations per year. Some clients must manage 200 preservation holds a year—in addition to regular duties of managing storage infrastructure. eDiscovery introduces efficiencies in managing the discovery processes."
She explains that judges place preservation holds on recoverable content related to a case. Preservation holds supersede the retention policies of the organization that holds the data. The IT department must identify where the discoverable content resides and ensure the data is not destroyed during litigation. Destroying such data is called "spoliation." Numerous companies have been in the news over the past few years for not honoring preservation holds.
eDiscovery integrates EMC's EmailXtender for e-mail archiving and Documentum content management platform with tiered storage devices, such as the Clariion and Centera platforms. EMC's federated search technology—Enterprise Content Integration Services (ECIS)—searches across multiple repositories.
The eDiscovery services help customers set e-mail and records management policies and create purpose-built archives that make finding information easier. The services also help companies determine their level of regulatory compliance, so they can remediate out-of-compliance conditions. Tape restoration and migration services also assist in this process, as do services to help companies "sunset" information and destroy it when appropriate.
"The reason discovery of electronic records is so risky today is because IT departments are in a state of disarray," says John Gubernat, director and global solutions lead for EMC's compliance practice. "Many IT departments commingle systems by making backup tapes do double duty as business archives. These companies should position the information infrastructure so they are prepared for the process of compliance and discovery.
"Companies can allocate a portion of the expenditures typically used for third-party collection and use those funds to invest in their information infrastructure—from the physical storage itself to the management of information at the application level," Gubernat adds. "Doing so will put them in a proactive position to collect and protect relevant data."
According to Gubernat, eDiscovery can be used for any type of information repository or record system, such as images or contract systems. "The federated search feature in Documentum—ECIS—has a library of adapter resources that can be purchased off the shelf. If the target archive is not in the library, a software developers' kit (SDK) can create an adapter for that archive," he says.
There are a number of smaller vendors offering services similar to EMC's eDiscovery. Zantaz, for example, offers electronic data discovery and litigation support solutions. Zantaz also has an API strategy that integrates with products from records management vendors, such as MDY's FileSurf federated records management solution (see Zantaz opens e-mail APIs).
Pricing for EMC's eDiscovery varies widely, with services engagements typically starting at about $300,000.